China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer doubles speed record

As supercomputers get faster, the demand for their services is also picking up.

Last November, Titan, a supercomputer backed by the U.S. Department of Energy, broke the world record for the fastest supercomputer . Now, less than a year later, a Chinese supercomputer has smashed that record.

The bi-annual TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers now ranks Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, as the top performing supercomputer in the world with a processing speed of 33.86 petaflop/s on the Linpack scale. When the Titan broke the record it was performing at 17.5 petaflop/s. It is now the second fastest supercomputer at 17.59 petaflop/s.

And while the Tianhe-2 uses 48,000 Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and 32,000 Intel Xeon processors, many of the supercomputer's components were developed in China, according to Jack Dongarra, the TOP500 editor, who toured the Tianhe-2 development facility.

Supercomputers, of course, can help analyze a lot of data very quickly and they are used in everything from analyzing big data to creating more accurate weather predictions to sequencing the human genome. And the demand for high performing computing servers is only expected to increase. According to IDC, annual revenue is expected to grow from $11 billion to $15 billion over the next four years.

Intel--which stands to benefit from this increase as they account for 80 percent of the processors on the TOP500 list--said in a press release: "The dramatic increase and growth of supercomputers continues to be driven by the need to quickly compute, simulate and make more informed decisions across a range of industries."

More details about the top supercomputers here.

Photo: TOP500

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